O’Brien Rare Coin Review: Why is the 1992 Irish 10p coin so valuable?


The Irish government began minting the original 10p coin two years prior to Decimal Day, 15 February 1971, hence the first 10p coins were dated 1969 and 1971 – when they were first circulated.  These coins retained the exact design and dimensions (except denomination) of the old (pre-decimal) florin coin, first introduced to the Irish Free State in 1928 and the two coins circulated alongside one another until 1994 – when a new, smaller version was introduced.

The new, smaller Irish 10p coin

Following the successful introduction of the new 20p coin in 1986 and the new, smaller version of the 5p in 1992, it was proposed that a new, smaller version of the 10p would be also introduced into circulation … circulating in 1993.

  • No ten pence (10p) coins had been minted since 1986 and there was by now a definite need to circulate 10p coins but the monetary value of the coin necessitated a smaller ‘cheaper to produce’ coin.

Similar to the situation in 1986 when they introduced a new 20p coin, all vending machines In Ireland needed to be re-calibrated in advance of the circulation of the new (smaller) 10p coins and, with so many public phone boxes scattered around the country, Telecom Éireann engineers were issued with sample coins to test their equipment with.

How rare are they and what grades do they turn up in?

  • The 1992 Irish 10p coin is exceedingly rare and only two examples are known
  • No one knows the exact number minted, or the exact number returned for melting
    • how many Telecom Éireann engineers were there in each county?
    • how many of these engineers were involved in re-calibration of phone boxes?
    • were some engineers working in more than one county?
    • how many coins would each engineer need to do his/her job?
  • They were used to re-calibrate vending machines so it is highly unlikely that one will be found in uncirculated condition
  • They sell for about €12,000 each (but this depends on condition / grade)

Beware of forgeries!

  • If you spot one for sale, please do examine the date carefully as, no doubt, forgers and crooks will be at work soon
    • examine photo’s carefully
    • enlarge photo’s and look for unusual marks / wear around the “2” in the date
    • don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions about its origin
    • even if the photo looks perfect, the photo could be a fake too
    • if possible, ask for a personal appointment to examine the coin in advance of making an offer / bid
      • a reputable dealer would do this
      • a reputable auctioneer would do this
      • a private vendor should be prepared do likewise (for a particularly rare and valuable coin)
Large 10p (1969-1986) and small 10p (1993-2000)

Large ten pence coin (1969-1986) and small ten pence coin (1993-2000) – note, the fish (salmon) is reversed in the later coins.

  • Large 10p
  • 1980  46,600,000
  • 1982  11,400,000
  • 1985    7,500,000
  • 1986         11,280 – only available via special BU collector pack 
  • Small 10p
  • 1992      unknown
  • 1993  80,100,000
  • 1994  58,500,000


Note 1:

In 1986 the Central Bank of Ireland produced a specimen set of normally struck uncirculated coins (often incorrectly referred to as proofs) to coincide with the introduction of the new 20 pence coin.  Several of the denominations were not required for normal circulation purposes, therefore small quantities of the halfpenny, the 10 pence and the 50 pence were minted to facilitate the production of these sets.

Consequently, these denominations and the BU sets containing them are scarce.

Many of the 1986 sets were sold into the Irish tourist industry for re-sale to visitors looking for souvenirs before the local collecting community was aware of their existence.  For this reason, many of these sets turn up in the USA, Canada and Europe and, for monetary gain, some sets are broken up to sell the three scarce coins individually – at a higher profit.

  • There is nothing illegal about this and it only makes the original sets scarcer and, possibly, more valuable.
  • The original glue that binds the presentation packs often leaks and ruins the packaging – the packs in poor condition are usually good candidates for breaking up sets.


Note 2:

The Irish five pence coin, first introduced in 1971, was 5.65518 grams in weight with a diameter of 2.3595 centimetres. This matched the British five pence coin. As a modern coin it became apparent in the late 1980s that the coin’s physical dimensions were large relative to its value.  On 30th April, 1992, Minister for Finance (Bertie Ahern announced that a new 5p coin would be introduced in June. The new coin will be lighter and smaller than the current 5p coin but will retain the existing design.”

The original five pence was last minted in 1990 and in 1992 a replacement was 3.25 grams in weight with a 1.85 centimetres diameter (differing from the corresponding new British five pence coin). This new coin kept the old design but incorporated some changes, notably the location of the figure and reversing the main design of the bull. The composition of the five pence was 75% copper and 25% nickel.

  • Large 5p
  • 1990    7,500,000
  • Small 5p
  • 1992  74,500,000
Large (1971-1990) five pence coin and small (1992-2000) five pence coin.

Large (1971-1990) five pence coin and small (1992-2000) five pence coin.   Note, the bull is reversed in the later coins and the denomination (5p) is placed at the bottom.

Did the Central Bank of Ireland issue a 1991 5p to Telecom Éireann engineers to calibrate the phone boxes before the introduction of the new (smaller) 5p coin in 1992 ???

If the vending machines had to be calibrated in 1985 and 1992 for the new 20p and smaller 10p, respectively – it is logical that a similar exercise was carried out in 1991 for the imminent arrival of the smaller 5p in 1992 – unless they could complete the project within the first five months of 1992.

To date, no 1991 small Irish 5p coins have been found or reported.

Check your stash of old Irish coins now !

Other RARE Irish coins

Check your Irish coin values

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23 thoughts on “O’Brien Rare Coin Review: Why is the 1992 Irish 10p coin so valuable?

  1. Pingback: Rare Coins: The 1943 Irish Florin | oldcurrencyexchange

  2. My son found a 1992 Eire with the Celtic harp on front but on the back it has a bull and 10P on the top of the bull. The bull should have been for the 5pence. Any advice and could this be a misprint?


  3. Could you tell me how much a 1918 English one penny is worth? It has a head on one side and it’s like a warrior with a trident on the other side


    • Hi Marian,

      Many thanks for contacting me.

      Sadly, your coin is a very common coin – tens of millions were produced and many million still survive out there.

      The “warrior” is an effigy of Britannia “ruling the waves” an this is a symbol from the glory days of the British empire when their navy effectively won and defended their empire + trade routes.


  4. You mention that the 10p florin were dated 1969-1971. I have one dated 1968 – any comments please. Also one dated 1971. R Lewis


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